Stars Without Number

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Stars Without Number
Starswithoutnumber.jpg
RPG published by
Sine Nomine
Rule System D&D Retroclone
Authors Kevin Crawford
First Publication 2010 (Original Edition)
2017 (Revised Editon)


Stars Without Number is a Science Fiction based retroclone of B/X Dungeons And Dragons by way of Classic Traveller, created by Kevin Crawford. It's currently in it's second edition, which revamps the game with a few more modern touches.

How Does It Play?[edit]

If you've played D&D, you know. D20 dice rolls for combat resolution, with 1e using Descending AC and 2e using Ascending. Characters have skills like Traveller, which are resolved on rolls of 2d6.

There are threefour classes: Warrior (fight stuff, turn failed attack or dodge rolls into successes), Experts (double skill points, turn failed skill rolls into successes), Psychics (use psychic powers), and Adventurers (pick two of the above, dip into their skillset). Combat is highly lethal, thanks to low HP upgrades and high powered weapons. This is backed by one change from the classic formula: Shock Damage, which evens the odds for melee characters by making sure that even on a "miss" they inflict damage if the enemy isn't wearing sufficient armor. This means a swarm of mutant hicks with sharp sticks is just as deadly as a bounty hunter with a plasma repeater if you let them close in. So don't do that. PCs can make a "Snap Attack" in the middle of an enemy turn if they haven't gone yet, but it gives you a pretty big penalty to-hit.

Beyond that, the game's simple. Crawford wants you to be able to translate your B/X stuff into this and replace the orcs with space pigs, liches with crazy AIs, et cetera.

What's the Story?[edit]

The year is 3200. Humanity used to rule the stars, but then the Scream happened and all interstellar travel got wiped. But it's back now, and the universe needs Rogue TradersFree Merchants to travel places, search for pre-tech, connect with lost worlds and exploit them, and anything else.

The setting is intentionally big and vague to act as a sandbox for players who want to live out there Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds/John Crichton fantasies.

Difference Between Original and Revised[edit]

Armor Class in OG is Descending, with a base Armor Class of 9. Revised switched over to Ascending Armor Class.

Class Differences

  • Experts: OG can reroll skill check once per in-game hour. Revised can reroll skill checks once per scene.
  • Psychics: Psi-points have been renamed Effort. Revised psychic has a d6 hp vs OG d4. Psychic disciplines in OG max at 5, Revised maxes out at 4 but has more abilities that unlock as you level up the skill.
  • Warriors: OG can reroll combat checks once per combat and has d8 HP per level. Revised can reroll once per scene and has d6+2 HP (averaging higher hit points)

OG has 44 skills, with each different weapon, technology level, and vehicle type having it's own skill. Revised has 25, with similar skills such as Combat (Energy), Combat (Ballistic), Combat (Gunnery) being combined into Shoot, while also removing skills like Artist which are unlikely to come up in regular play.

Revised introduced Shock damage, a way of buffing melee combat in a game where most characters will have access to assault rifles. Essentially, when attacking with melee weapons against enemies with insufficient Armor Class, the weapons still deal the lowest possible damage to the enemy (so a "Miss" with a 1d4 damage Knife would deal 1 damage, plus attribute modifiers)

Free Version vs Paid Version[edit]

The paid version of the game adds a number of modifiers for GMs to play with, including but not limited to

  • Transhumanist campaigns, wherein player characters can easily change "shells", including dealing with the alienation that comes from being in a body that isn't your own.
  • Magic, including three new classes (or rather, three classes that act as stand-ins for magic-users from other systems). The Arcanist is a generalist. The Magister is a specialist. The Adept is a framework for importing specialized classes like the Cleric, Paladin, or Elf into the game.
  • Heroic Campaigns, which changes the gritty combat into something more akin to Crawford's Godbound. PCs take less damage, while NPCs drop like flies.
  • The True AI class, for all your players who want to play the equivalent of a lich
  • Mechs, for when you want to have access to 20 tons of awesome

Supplements[edit]

Various supplements have been released for the system which acts as GM tools and advice for running various types of sci-fi games. While most were released for the original edition, they are still mostly compatible with the revised edition.

  • Codex of the Black Sun: Space Magic! The only supplement released after the Revised edition.
  • Skyward Steel: Space Naval Stuff!
  • Suns of Gold: Making Money! in space.
  • Starvation Cheap: Land Wars! not in space.
  • Darkness Visible: Space Espionage!
  • Polychrome: Cyberpunk! not in space

Links[edit]